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Atrial Septal Defect

Atrial septal defect (ASD) is an abnormal hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart, called the right and left atria. When this hole occurs, too much blood flows from the left atrium to the right atrium and through the right side of the heart. This excess blood flows through the right ventricle, pulmonary artery and into the lungs making the heart work harder. The extra blood flowing to the lungs creates a noise called a murmur.

Small holes may close on their own by the time a child is 2 years old. In some people, the defect doesn't cause symptoms until middle age.

Our Approach to Atrial Septal Defect

UCSF provides comprehensive, highly specialized care for adults living with heart defects such as atrial septal defect. Our dedicated team of experts offers a wide array of services, including thorough medical evaluations, advanced treatments, long-term monitoring, and personalized recommendations on diet, exercise, psychosocial support and family planning.

For surgical repair of the defect, we often can take a minimally invasive approach. Surgeons may be able to perform the repair via a small "keyhole" incision on the side of the chest or by using a catheter – a thin, flexible tube that's inserted through a small incision in the groin and gently guided through the blood vessels up to the heart. These techniques offer many benefits to patients, including less postoperative pain, a faster recovery and less scarring.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Among the top hospitals in the nation

  • One of the nation’s best in cardiology & heart surgery

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.